The EU is proposing to reinforce its healthy eating programmes in schools to help address poor nutrition among children.
The new scheme will bring together 2 existing programmes – the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme – which provide funding for the distribution of fruit and milk in schools and encourage education on healthy eating. Around 30 million children across the EU benefit from these programmes each year.
The new scheme will combine the 2 under the slogan 'Eat Well – Feel Good'. There will be a greater focus on education to help improve children’s awareness of how to eat healthily and increase their understanding of issues such as food production and waste. This might include visits to farms, for example.
In most countries, the amount of fruit, vegetables and milk that children are eating and drinking is decreasing. Diets are shifting towards highly processed foods instead.
According to the World Health Organisation, obesity among European children is on the rise. In 2008, it was estimated that 1 in 4 European children aged between 6 and 9 was overweight or obese; by 2010, that figure had risen to 1 in 3.
Against this backdrop, the new scheme will aim to
Currently, all EU countries participate in the milk scheme, and most take part in the fruit scheme (the UK, Sweden and Finland have chosen not to). Participation in the new scheme will continue to be voluntary, and EU countries will have the flexibility to choose which foods to distribute.
The new scheme will have a budget of €230 m, an increase from this year’s €197 m, but no higher than the budget already set for the fruit and milk schemes leading up to 2020.
It is hoped that combining the schemes will reduce the administrative and organisational burdens of implementing them for schools and national authorities and make distribution more cost-effective.